Bexley’s Own Miss America Celebrates 50th Anniversary! 

The 100th Miss America competition will Live Stream on NBC Peacock at 8 PM (EST) on December  16, 2021. Bexley’s own Laurel Lea Schaefer (Bozoukoff), Miss America 1972, will travel to Mohegan Sun  Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut with, husband, Michael Bozoukoff, and brother, Rick Schaefer (Westerville), to attend this historic 100th Anniversary and her 50th! 

Laurel, a 1967 graduate of Bexley High School, was well-known for her acting and singing proficiency, taking leading roles at Bexley High School, Bexley Recreation Department, Stadium Theatre (OSU), and  Players Theatre. She was a charter member of the Columbus Junior Theatre of the Arts (now known as  Columbus Children’s Theatre) and was active with her youth group at Broad Street Presbyterian Church.  Laurel auditioned and won a 4-year Theatre Arts scholarship to Ohio University, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1971. 

Just months after graduating from Ohio University, Laurel won Miss Ohio and was on her way to compete for Miss America. On September 11, 1971, she was crowned Miss America 1972. Laurel traveled  over 100,000 miles, was the last Miss America to headline a USO Tour to Vietnam & Thailand, and sang the  National Anthem at President Nixon’s Inauguration (1973). She’s the recipient of numerous awards including; 

The American Academy of Achievement’s Gold Plate Award, Ohio Governor’s Award, The Tom Dooley Humanitarian Award, Bexley High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and listings in Who’s Who, IMDb and Wikipedia. 

Laurel is the daughter of Eleanor and Charles Schaefer (both deceased), sister Elaine (deceased), and  brothers Chip (wife Barbara) of Columbus and Rick of Westerville. Considered the “All-American Girl Next  Door,” her most treasured memories center around the outpouring of support that the Bexley community embraced with “Homecoming” events celebrating both of her achievements as Miss Ohio 1971 and Miss America 1972. 

Laurel is the owner and casting director for Creative Casting Services specializing in children’s  commercials and 3D animated feature films. She is currently working on two feature film projects. Laurel  has enjoyed over 40 years as a stage and television actress, concert singer, and featured keynote speaker. In  2010, she took a “right angle” from her entertainment career to become a Regional Educational Coordinator for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (Department of Defense). At Camp Lejeune, NC, she worked  with Marines and Sailors diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) providing them with life coping  strategies. In 2016, Laurel became a certified brain injury specialist. Today, she presents TBI programs on  “Aging & Cognitive Fitness.”  

In 2014, Laurel received a letter from fellow Ohio University classmate Michael Bozoukoff. As an Air Force ROTC cadet, he remembered her attendance as a Lt. Colonel with Angel Flight (a women’s Air Force  support group) while he was receiving an outstanding cadet award and they shared a moment’s gaze. Now a retired Air Force Major and widower living in Washington State, Michael was reaching out to reconnect… and it worked! A long-distance relationship ensued. Months of emails and phone calls turned into cross-country visits which resulted in a marriage proposal at the college chapel where their eyes met 43 years earlier. In May  2015, they were married at the Ellsworth Chapel in Westerville. 

“The Major and Miss America” reside in the charming Bavarian village of Leavenworth, WA, on the  east side of the Cascade Mountains. Laurel is working on her first book, “The Last Miss America in Vietnam.”  She truly feels blessed and grateful for the life she is living!